Thursday, April 18, 2013


Well, we made it!

After a nasty spout of food poisoning (or some weird virus that a fourth of the group caught), the 7 hour car ride was worth it as we arrived at the Southern African Wildlife College. The college is located INSIDE the Kruger National Park, so upon entering, we saw several herds of impala, zebra, and wildebeest. We received a safety course on all of the poisonous spiders, scorpions, and snakes that might kill us, and they even taught us how to properly check our shoes for these critters in the morning. It’s absolutely gorgeous here and it’s crazy to think that this is where we get to have class for the remainder of the semester.

We stayed one night at the college before we met our new host families, and let me tell you, the dorms at this college are 10x nicer than my dorm at Wooster, PLUS we could hear lions roaring in the night. I might need to rethink my college plans… I am pleased to say that I have yet another amazing host family and have loved every minute with them so far. My homestay partner is Niki, a neuroscience major a Johns Hopkins and she’s great to live with. Living at our house is Grandma (who has 6 children), her daughters Tsakani (36) and Ntombi (32), her sons Goodwill (26) and Laurence (unknown.. maybe 30ish?), Laurence’s girlfriend and their 9 month old daughter who they call Princess, and Ntombi’s 8 year old daughter Khanyi. It’s a full, fun house, and I love having TWO little sisters.

Though Grandma doesn’t speak too much English, all of her children have learned it in school so we’re able to communicate. We also have Tsonga language lessons at school at each day, so I’m hoping to be able to communicate more with Grandma as the weeks go on. So far we know simple greetings and introductions, family terms, Thank you, and some meal terms.

Our first few days were just getting to know the neighborhood/town area and getting used to our new families and houses. Most of us live fairly close to each other, and I’ve got two other homestay families living right across the road from us. Meghan and Hannah are in one house, and Mike, Nick, and Jonathan in the other. Mike and Nick were also my neighbors in Brazil, so it’s really fun being near them again!

As far as food goes, I am SO excited for every meal here. For breakfast, Grandma makes porridge (either with oats or pap), and we have bread, peanut butter (yes, we have peanut butter!) apricot jam, and these fried dough balls called mafeti. Sometimes we’ll have scrambled eggs and fried ham slices, but not everyday. Lunch is packed, so we have sandwiches, hard boiled eggs, apples, bananas, and then I usually add some extra snacks that I’ve picked up throughout my trip (just because I’m always hungry, and lectures can get long..) And dinner is my favorite! We have rice and/or pap (oh yeah! Pap is this potato like substance, that’s made from millie miel, and it’s mashed and put flat in a circular shape…. it’s actually really hard to explain. Google it.) and then this delicious mixture of chopped onions, green peppers, carrots, and brown beans, and then usually either fried fish or fried chicken. The chicken here is so incredibly delicious, I can’t even describe it. I feel bad for the vegetarians on this trip. But sometimes as appetizers we have other random cooked beef that looks like it could be liver (based solely on the way it’s strung together) but it’s pure meat. And however they cook it is the way that all meat should be cooked. I’ll have to find out so that Dad can make it when I get home.

This past Saturday was probably one of my favorite days so far. We were at home most of the day, and we had given our homestay gifts at dinner the night before, so we decided to try out the Snow-To-Go that I brought, since none of them had ever seen snow before. Khanyi and Tsakani got out a bowl and some water and we watched the powder expand and turn into “snow.” The smile on Khanyi’s face was priceless, and she absolutely loved it. I showed them some photos of the snow in Minneosta (thanks for the photos, Mom!) and Khanyi then took the bowl of snow outside and started throwing it at the trees. She was trying to put snow on the trees so that it would look like some of the photos I was showing her. So she went to a few other plants, giggling, and plopping snow on the flowers in this 80-degree weather here in South Africa. Then she started throwing the snow on herself and asked Tsakani to throw it at her like a snowball. She was completely covered in “snow” and could not stop laughing. It made my day.

Schoolwise, we’re finally getting back into our routine of having school Monday through Friday from 9-5. Of course that also includes site visits to hospitals and clinics, case study time, guest lectures, and “community building” to keep us all happy.

This weekend we’re going to an animal rehab center called Moholoholo. Should be exciting!

All for now!


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